Six decades of church and community music honoured

Graham StocksGraham Wesley Stocks OAM
6/5/1928 –17/9/ 2015

Graham Wesley Stocks was born to Rev Wesley and Ruby Stocks in Sydney, the youngest brother of five children, Ken, Gwen, Marcia and Ralph. His great grandfather was Edward King, a Methodist pioneer preacher and circuit steward of Morpeth Circuit of the Maitland District.

As Graham’s father was a Methodist minister the family moved to various locations throughout his childhood – Orange, Wollongong, Camden and finally, in 1945 at the age of 17, to Albury. During those formative years he was exposed to organ, choral and classical music. By the time Graham arrived in Albury he had taught himself to play both piano and organ.

In 1945 Graham became the organist for the then-Wesley Methodist Church in Olive Street, Albury. He held that position for 32 years, where he had to grapple with major choral works and three regular church services every Sunday. Here the church choir sang numerous oratorios that Graham accompanied over the years , among them ‘Messiah’, ‘Elijah’ and ‘Crucifixion’. It was not long before he was in demand for concert work, solos and accompaniments in the wider community.  Other churches in the region freely called on Graham for advice and practical assistance.

From the 1960s, Graham also provided organ accompaniments for local theatre groups and school productions – anything from musicals such as Oklahoma and Camelot to Gilbert and Sullivan musicals.

In 1975, the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation asked Graham to form and chair a committee to investigate the need for a Conservatorium of Music in Albury/Wodonga. Five years later, in January 1981, the Riverina Music Centre was opened. The now-Murray Conservatorium is the direct descendant of that Centre.

After the Uniting Church was formed in 1977, Graham was asked by his friend (Jack Carter, the organist at the Presbyterian Church of St David’s) to take over the position of organist after Jack retired. Graham held this position for 33 years at St David’s Uniting Church, Albury. He spent many hours composing and arranging choral music for the choir, playing for church services, thousands of local/regional weddings, funerals, and the annual Charles Sturt University graduations.

Graham retired from his role as a senior partner chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse in 1985. He commenced giving organ lessons in his home and helping some students to AMus A level, gave organ lectures at the Murray Conservatorium, and conducted weekly church recitals at St Matthews, Albury.

In 1981 he was a member and chairman of the foundation of the Riverina Murray Institute of Higher Education, which amongst many things led to the establishment of the Charles Sturt University in Albury.

The community expressed its appreciation through a NSW Premier’s Award (1993), a Charles Stuart University honorary degree (1996), an Albury Australia Day Award (1997), and the Medal of the Order of Australia (2006).

At his packed funeral at St David’s Albury, on Friday 25 September  2015, the church filled with music and song, including recordings of his organ playing, and the choir performing his arrangement of ‘Eagle’s Wings’.

Graham is survived by his wife Joan and three children: Rhonda, Mark and Judy, and families including five grand-children.

Compiled by Graham Stocks’ daughters.

(photo – courtesy of the ‘Border Mail’ Albury/Wodonga)

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